Archive | November, 2013

RSL victorious, but Timbers get a lifeline

Posted on 11 November 2013 by Aowabin Rahman

Real Salt Lake clinched the first leg of the Western Conference final, defeating Portland Timbers by 4-2 at Rio Tinto Stadium on Sunday. Chris Schuler, Robbie Findley, Devon Sandoval and Javier Morales registered for the home side, while Will Johnson and Frederic Piquionne scored for the Timbers.

Real Salt Lake probably had the psychological edge over their rivals, having beaten the TImbers twice this season at home and being unbeaten against them in their last eight outings. The home team, however, had to contend without star forward Alavaro Saborio , who suffered a hip flexor injury against LA Galaxy in the second leg of the Western Conference semi.

Timbers coach Caleb Porter fielded a positive XI, with playmaker Diego Valerie sitting behind the forward trio of Darlington Nagbe, Ryan Johnson and Rodney Wallace. The Portland side also had good form under their belt, going into the game with a 10-game winning streak.

RSL shaded the possession in the opening exchanges, but it were the Timbers who drew first blood. After playmaker Diego Valerie was fouled outside the box, captain Will Johnson stepped up to take the free-kick. The ex-RSL man brilliantly capitalized from the dead-ball in the 14th minute and beat Rimando at his bottom-right.

RSL began to enjoy a good spell of possession as the half progressed and had a couple of decent half chances from Kyle Beckerman and Nat Borchers. They finally made it count in the 35th minute, when defender Chris Schuler rose well above the Timbers defense and slotted home from the corner to draw the home side level.

The Timbers fans would’ve had their hearts in their mouths again in the 38th minute when another the ball bounced ominously in the box following a Moales corner, before finally cleared off the line by Valierie. Soon after, defender Nat Borchers also had an opportunity from a Beckerman cross, but the RSL man shot over the bar from close range.

Nonetheless, the home attendance did not have to wait long for their home side to pull ahead, as Portland defender Mamadou Danso failed to control a fairly simple ball in Timbers defense. Robbie Findley slipped in behind the defender to calmly finish past keeper Donovan Ricketts in the 40th minute.

RSL soon stretch get the two-goal cushion following a second-half kickoff. Morales, who had constantly found space between the Timbers midfield and defense, threaded Robbie Findley down the flank. The forward’s low cross found Sandoval in the box, who finished neatly in the 48th minute.

A relatively quiet phase of play followed. Portland were probing, yet not sufficiently threatening. Substitutes Khalif Alhassan and Frederic Piquionne  attempted a couple of long-rangers, but none of them tested Rimando.

It was RSL, however, who stretched the lead even further with a goal from Javier Morales in the 81st minute. The play started with an excellent RSL chance, when a Morales header was glanced goal-wards by Luis Gil, but then brilliantly kept out by keeper Ricketts. The resulting corner from substitute Plata was met by Morales low in the box, whose diving header went past Ricketts.

Portland Timbers, were thrown a lifeline in the dying minutes of second-half injury time, when a deep cross from full-back Paul Jewsbury was brilliantly headed in by Frederic Piquionne. The header sufficient power and direction to beat keeper Rimando and kept the Timbers in the two-legged series.

The six-goal thriller was a repeat score-line of an earlier encounter between the two sides in the regular season at Rio Tinto. Both coaches could take positives from the game: Jason Kreis probably would’ve taken a two-goal lead before the start of the game, while Caleb Porter could take heart from the last-minute goal and would feel that they’re capable of overturning the two-goal deficit on their own turf.

The teams face again in the second leg on November 24 at Jen-Weld Stadium.



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Real Salt Lake v. Portland Timbers, Western Conference Finals Leg 1

Posted on 11 November 2013 by Tino Arana

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RSL beat Galaxy, Progress to Conference Finals

Posted on 08 November 2013 by Aowabin Rahman

RSL knocked out reigning MLS Cup Champions LA GAlaxy at home  (2-0 in 2nd leg, 2-1 aggregate) and progressed to Western Conference Finals. Sebastian Velasquez scored in the first half to level the aggregate score, followed by Chris Schuler’s winner in extra-time.

The host did have a formidable task at hand from the get-go, looking to overturn a Sean Franklin goal that they conceded in the first leg. They were also hoping to address the psychological block of not scoring a single goal in the last 335 minutes in MLS playoffs.

RSL were missing key midfielder Ned Gravaboy due to a hamstring injury, but were welcoming back Joao Plata on the bench.  Galaxy fielded a strong XI, with the forward duo of Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane sharing  an impressive 28 goals between them.

RSL started the game with a high tempo, going direct to forward Alvaro Saborio and trying to beat the Galaxy midfield to the second ball. However, it was the away team with the first chance of the match in the 4th minute, as Galaxy winger Gyasi Zardes broke free from Tony Beltran to set up Landon Donovan. The forward’s curler from the edge of the box went over the bar.

RSL found themselves with a great opportunity to take the lead in the 15th minute, when Kyle Beckerman found Saborio in the box, but the Costa Rican headed wide from close range. Galaxy were breaking with pace down the flanks with winger Robbie Rogers producing a fine ball from the byline. However, there was no white shirt in the box to slot it home.

Robbie Rogers again found himself in the box in the 28th minute following a Galaxy corner.  The winger’s scuffed effort went wide.

RSL took the lead in the 36th minute when full-back Chris Wingert’s cross found Sebastian Velasquez in the box. The young RSL midfielder made no mistake from close range to pull RSL level on the aggregate. The goal was really well-engineered by Javier Morales, whose excellent vision switched play to the left, with Wingert in plenty of space.

Galaxy was quick to shift gears and pressed forward after going a goal down, winning a flurry of corners before the first-half ended. The home team, however, was able to hold till the whistle.

The LA outfit continued where they left off, but it was RSL had the first clear-cut chance. A Morales set-piece in the 53rd minute beat the traffic in the box and forced Jaime Penedo to make the first real save of the game.

A frantic one-minute period at the 65th minute saw Rogers’ low cross spilled by Rimando, following which a desperate RSL defense was barely able to keep away Donovan’s left-footer from fairly close range. Following a Chris Schuler clearance, Saborio was able to hurry the Galaxy defense into conceding a corner within a space of a few seconds.

As the game progressed, RSL began to get a stronger hold of the game. In the 75th minute, Chris Schuler headed into the crossbar following a Morales free-kick. Luck again denied RSL as Saborio hit the crossbar again from the edge of the box in the 78th minute after good hold-up play from substitute Olmes Garcia.

RSL would finally find the back of the net in the 83rd minute when a Morales free-kick went untouched in the box and found the Galaxy net. However, the referee controversially disallowed the goal, supposedly for some infringement in the box. RSL would consider themselves unlucky, as the goal appeared legit in the replays.

The 90th minute saw another scrap near the LA goal following a Luis Gil Cross. Garcia seemed to have the final touch, but Penedo was able to hold on to the ball.

RSL carried on with their momentum into extra-time and took a long overdue two-goal lead in the 12th minute of extra-time when another Morales set-piece found Schuler at the far post. The veteran defender slotted in home from close range.

The Galaxy keeper and defense have dealt with Morales’ set-pieces poorly throughout the game and it seemed inevitable that the Argentine would eventually make them pay.

More controversy followed as a Donovan goal was ruled offside due to what appeared to be a foul on Nat Borchers. RSL had even more disconcerting matters to attend to, as Alvaro Saborio went off injured after coach RSL coach Jason Kreis used up all of his substitutions. The home team were forced to  defend their narrow lead with only 10 men in the last 10 minutes.

The last few minutes saw desperate goal-mouth action in RSL box  substitute Jose Villareal, Gyasi Zardes and Sean Franklin all had chances to level the tie. However, the men in claret-and-cobalt were able to see out the nervy final minutes.

The final whistle sent a raucous home crowd into jubilation, as their side take on Portland Timbers in the Western Conference Final.

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Real Salt Lake v LA Galaxy Nov 7, 2013

Posted on 08 November 2013 by Tino Arana

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Galaxy win First Leg against Real Salt Lake

Posted on 04 November 2013 by iyeo

Opening the first leg of its Western Conference semifinal matchup against dangerous Real Salt Lake at home, the Los Angeles Galaxy made the most of its opportunity on Sunday evening.

The Galaxy dominated the possession and scoring chances in the match, but it wasn’t until early in the second half that LA put the ball in the back net, and it came from Right Back Sean Franklin, whose long range volley was all LA needed to draw first blood in its 1-0 win at the StubHub Center.

“It was a good effort for 90 minutes,” Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena said. “Our team played well tonight and we certainly had a chance to get a few more goals.”

Franklin’s goal and the first leg win will surely be needed for the Galaxy, as they prepare for what will surely be a hostile atmosphere and a more desperate RSL side in the final leg, which will be Thursday at Rio Tinto Stadium.

“We weren’t good with the ball tonight,” Real Salt Lake head coach Jason Kreis said. “We gave the ball away so cheaply so many times in dangerous spots.”

After a scoreless first half, albeit it with some scoring opportunities, the Galaxy pushed ahead in the 49th minute. Robbie Keane held the ball on RSL’s left side, then played a ball back towards the top of the box. Fortunately, Franklin charged in and fired a laser of a volley for the near post and succeeded, as the ball sailed past a diving Nick Rimando into the back net.

“The ball just came out of the top of the box, I had the time and space and I just tried to keep it on frame,” Franklin said of his goal.

Salt Lake looked for the equalizer shortly after the goal. RSL had a chance in the 67th minute, as Sebastian Velasquez brought down a cross inside the penalty area, but Franklin swooped in and blocked the shot. RSL’s best chance at an equalizer came in the 81st minute, as Chris Wingert played a ball into the six-yard box for Luis Gil. Gil’s presence drew out keeper Jaime Penedo and Gil responded by crossing a short ball towards Devon Sandoval, who was right in front of goal, but Left Back Todd Dunivant marked Sandoval well enough to prevent Sandoval from getting any shot off and play continued despite RSL’s plea for a penalty shot.

“We had a lot of numbers behind the ball, but we really didn’t get pressure to it,” Kreis said.

The Galaxy dominated the first half with numerous scoring chances, but had trouble with its finishing. LA got a chance in the 12th minute, as Gyasi Zardes played a ball forward for a sprinting Landon Donovan, who managed to get behind RSL Center Back Nat Borchers. Donovan sprinted into the 18-yard box and fired a ball past Rimando, but missed the near post. LA got another look at goal in the 19th minute when RSL Center Back Chris Schuler headed a ball down, but apparently did not know that Donovan was there. Taking advantage of the giveaway by RSL, Donovan then sprung Keane, who got inside the 18, but his shot attempt went right into the hands of Rimando.

“We had our chances certainly,” Arena said. “I think Rimando did real well tonight, he looked composed in goal and didn’t make anything easy.”

Salt Lake didn’t pose much of a threat in the first half, expect for a chance in the 26th minute, as Ned Grabavoy touched a ball to Gil, who quickly touched it back to Grabavoy. Grabavoy sprinted for the LA penalty area and played a short cross back to Gil, who fired a shot on goal, but just missed the near post.

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Timbers Get Historic Win In Seattle

Posted on 03 November 2013 by Kyle Alm

Sounders have not been able to advance in a two-legged playoff series in MLS Cup. After beating Colorado Rapids last week in the 4th and 5th place play-in It looked like Sounders had gotten over being snake-bit in the MLS Regular Season, not having won a match since September 13th. Seattle earned a shot at their I-5 rival, Portland Timbers. Caleb Porter had been up scouting his potential opponents in Seattle and his team appeared prepared to face a new-look lineup for Sounders. Both teams nearly at full-strength at the end of the season, there was plenty to be excited about with this Cascadia fixture.

Sounders got the better of play early, created chances, but were unable to finish them. Brad Evans found himself with a decent shot early that went wide of the Timbers net. Ryan Johnson returned fire a minute later on mirror image chance, perhaps a few yards further, that went similarly wide. Sounders came right back at Timbers when Adam Moffat made an uncharacteristic run with the ball down the left wing and skinned Diego Chara to the inside with a precision that made you wonder if Sounders had the Portland Timbers on the ropes.

Portland’s attack looked anemic and too willing to take speculative chances from distance. Will Johnson sent a couple of shots into the Brougham End and the Emerald City Supporters’ section. But it was boys in Rose Red that would draw first blood. ‘Captain’ Jack Jewsbury overlapping from his right back position sent a short cross to the near post that somehow found its way to Ryan Johnson. Somehow in this instance means that Jhon Kennedy Hurtado didn’t follow his mark, Ryan Johnson, although he was closer to the danger-man than Djimi Traore the entire time he inexplicably quit following him. Marcus Hahnemann didn’t cover his near post. The ball may have even hit him on the way in the 15th minute.

Dempsey added weight to a cliche within five minutes on a set piec that forced Donovan Ricketts into an incredible save. Another Ricketts was able to push just over the crossbar.

Lamar Neagle came out of the locker room and earned a yellow card within moments of the second half kickoff. A foolish and unnecessary infraction against Diego Valeri that will cost him the return leg. Luckily for his coach Obafemi Martins may be available.

Alonso got caught ball watching when Nagbe went wide where Rosales was shadowing him. Traore was there to cover but missed his tackle and left Marcus Hahnemann with no chance at saving Nagbe’s shot. It’s curious to note how deep the Sounders backline is when Nagbe receives the ball, he’s exactly (thanks to the magic of gridiron technology) 14 yards from the endline. That’s too deep when the ball was passed from 25 yards out, the line needs to be higher, especially if Adam Moffat is going to be 3 yards off of Khalif Alhassan when he plays the ball in. In defense of the Scotsman, he brought the defensive pressure from the middle of the park where he was put similar pressure on Will Johnson who supplied the ball. Traore missed his tackle but Hahnemann should have pushed his defensive line higher.

At the last possible moment it was Alonso who brought a glimmer of hope for his team when he took Shalrie Joseph’s flicked on header from Mauro Rosales’ corner and gave the Sounders a fighting chance going to Portland.

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